When the news came last week that Doug had been in a bad accident on the farm, I wondered if this might be his last. The week that he survived gave us all some time, not only to pray for him and his family but to remember this simple man’s kindness, loyalty to his friends and willingness to help. Doug didn’t read much. Besides repair manuals, the only books I think he ever read were the Boy Scout manual and the Bible. All his life, Doug had struggled with learning. His slight speech impediment also made it difficult for those who were not friends to understand all he said. But at 6 AM on Sunday mornings when the church furnace didn’t come on, Doug got the call. When someone’s car broke down and they couldn’t afford to take it to the garage, he fixed it at his house. Over the thirty plus years we knew him, Doug had rewired two of our homes, and replaced most of the plumbing in one. Doug also helped take care of the farm I managed. When the pipes leaked, the irrigation wouldn’t come on or the fields needed mowing, Doug was there.
But age wasn’t kind with our friend and after a few accidents falling asleep at the wheel, heart surgery and a fire that took out his big garage, Doug was hurting. But just as always, he assured me that he could cut the fields one more year, once he got the old tractor running again and bought 100 gallons of diesel at the crazy high prices of 2022. Then came the phone call that Doug was in intensive care, with nine broken ribs and a collapsed lung. Throughout the last week we all prayed that God would work a miracle and bring him back one more time. But it was not to be. Jesus had made other arrangements for our friend. He had a schedule to keep with the almighty and a home prepared by grace that would never need the furnace serviced. There would be fields to walk through, but never mowed. There is fresh living water that doesn’t run through pipes that freeze up in winter and a place prepared at a table.
No, my friend wasn’t perfect, but he had put His faith in a Savior who was. Despite his failings, he kept hoping to get his kids pointed back in the right direction or help out any neighbor he could. I can hardly believe I can’t call him up today or send him a thank you note for whatever work he had done lately at the farm. Goodbye Doug. May the Lord watch over us both until we meet in that city where there will be no more night, neither tears nor suffering. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for letting us have such a wonderful faithful gentle friend who will be sorely missed.
Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. John 11:5 KJV
Once when we were vacationing in Amish country, we decided to take a detour on a back road just for fun. Seeing a farm stand being tended by a little red-haired girl, I parked the car and we got out and began to browse through bins of fresh vegetables, homemade jams, pies and cookies. “Good morning!” I said smiling, while my wife was picking out a bag of cookies. As I went to pay for them, I asked, “And what’s your name?”
“Oh, my name is Martha.” The little girl answered quietly
“Well, I ‘ve got good news for you Martha.” I continued. The Bible says that Jesus loved Martha and her sister Mary and her brother, so you can know for sure that he loves you!”
In the children’s song it says, “Jesus loves me this I know; for the Bible tells me so.” Have you ever wondered where the Bible says that?” The answer is that His love is mentioned everywhere! It says, He knit us together before we were born, and He promises to carry us till old age. He is near us when we are broken hearted and gives us strength when we are weak. He gives streams in the desert when we are thirsty and provides daily bread when we are hungry. On every Bible page we can find His love. The song then goes on saying, “Little ones to Him belong.” So, if today you feel as small as the little Martha we met at the farm stand, then you are exactly who Jesus came to love and He is passing by you today!
This parable of the vineyard had always held for me the mystery of sunlight shining through fog. I was sure something wonderful was there but couldn’t quite make out exactly what. I once figured that the owner of the vineyard kept retuning for more workers because he didn’t want to lose his harvest. It reminded me of working a hayfield with six of my friends till 2 am. A thunderstorm was rolling in and hay left in the field might be spoiled so we labored till the first drops of rain started falling. But the story of this man returning over and over to the town square till almost quitting time just seemed odd.
Why did he hire men even when it was almost quitting time and why pay them the same as the others? After all the guys who only worked one hour certainly weren’t producing enough to even cover their wage. But then I remembered that when the owner hired those fellows he asked why they were standing around all day and they told him ,”because no one hired us.” They had stayed because they clung to hope even as the afternoon shadows grew longer.
And isn’t that the wonderful depth of the grace of Jesus? He doesn’t come until even the final hours because he cares about hay ruined in his field or grapes left on the vine. He comes over and over looking for us. The lostness of people who no one else wants, who stand abandoned in the town square stirs God’s heart to action! So with whatever few hours we have in His field let’s work with joy, knowing that from the depths of His grace we will receive far more than we deserve on the day we stand before Him!